Mean People Suck

Here I am, minding my own business, not blogging because there’s not much to say (or maybe there’s too much and I don’t know where to start) whilst supporting good friends who have been vlogging about their ideas on Immersive Polytheism versus Devotional Polytheism.

And even though I haven’t vlogged about it (and probably never will), I’m still very much part of

” …that segment of the blogosphere no one pays attention to unless they’re stirring up controversy.”

You know, the one that you’ve probably referred to in passing by saying:

“I know about that contingent (part from previous dramas, part from Tumblr [no surprise, i’m sure]) and honestly, the ringleaders seem to be the sort who’d look for any reason to take personal offence or assume a personal attack was made. Which is just kind of sad. Seems a very empty existence.”

I’m not sure who my ‘ring leader’ is because I don’t think any of my friends would want that job nor do any of us follow the other’s around like sycophants.  But I guess if a group of people have found common ground then there must be a ring leader?  And Tumblr? Please. I avoid that cesspool like the cesspool of teenage angst it is.

The last time I spoke of a controversy or took personal offense to anything was speaking out about misogyny in the Community. Twice. Thrice.

I’m not angry that things like this are said. Seriously, I’m not. For those of you who have read my blog for very long you know when I am getting ranty.

I’m amused. I’m amused because three of the people commenting in this manner are followers of this blog, have commented on this blog, and have emailed me.  But, you know, this is the section of the blogoshpere that no one pays attention.

Just…seriously people? You have to be so petty and mean spirited that you talk shit about me on another person’s blog, but then come over here saying how you agree with what I write?

For fuck’s sake.

PBP: D is for My One Little Word “Discipline”

Discipline: activity, exercise, or a regimen that develops or improves a skill; training. 

This is my One Little Word for 2014.  It is sorely lacking in all areas my life at the moment: housework, creative endeavors, religious studies, you name it.

Lately my mind has been on a flight of fancy flitting from one great idea to another whilst never settling down and actually doing something.  I need more discipline for there to be progress.  I need to push myself more because I have allowed things to become way too lax.

I have this ’80s inspired montage in my head of Ares showing up with a whistle and jump rope saying “Come on, Little Sister! I’ll whip you into shape in no time!” and then me collapsing in an exhausted heap on the ground after He’s put me through my paces.

Ummm. Well, maybe as long as it’s all metaphorical and there’s no real jumping-of-the-rope then He’d be a good one to have around to give tough love speeches and handing out pats on the back.

So, here I go with being more disciplined in 2014.

Gods help me.

PBP: A is for Agape

There’s been a huge brouhaha over the correct way to give offerings and libations to the Gods; there’s been impassioned posts written about how we are supposed to do it and not very much is being said on why offerings and libations are given.  When reasons on why we should give are stated, it is “because it is required“.

We are to give because it is required.

The Gods require us to give to Them in order to curry Their favour, love, acceptance.

If you have children, let me ask you this: do you require your child(ren) to give you things? If your child(ren) doesn’t/don’t give you things, do you love them any less? Do you shun them, ignore them, give them a proverbial smacking?

Or do you love your child(ren) unconditionally?

When your child(ren) do(es) give you something, do you want it to be an act of pure love or because it is required of them?

I know this might be a radical message for some reading this. It’s okay. Just take a deep breath and let it sink in:

The Gods love us.  Every single last crazy one of us. It’s not about what we give Them, but who we are to Them. They love us unconditionally.

Now, that doesn’t mean They like everyone. There is a distinctive difference between “liking” a person and “loving” a person. There are times you may not “like” your child because of their behaviour, but you still love them unconditionally.

I think that’s what it’s like for Them. They get fed up with the dumbassery of some humans and their behaviour, but it comes from being very disappointed in the choices a person whom They love has made. Because, Their love isn’t contained to these little human bodies, but to our immortal Souls and They know how much better any number of us could be better.

The Hellenes have a words for this sort of love: Agape

(ἀγάπη agápē) means love in a “spiritual” sense. In the term s’agapo (Σ’αγαπώ), which means “I love you” in Ancient Greek, it often refers to a general affection or deeper sense of “true unconditional love” rather than the attraction suggested by “eros.” This love is selfless; it gives and expects nothing in return. Agape is used in the biblical passage known as the “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13, and is described there and throughout the New Testament as sacrificial and spiritual love. Whether the love given is returned or not, the person continues to love (even without any self-benefit). Agape is also used in ancient texts to denote feelings for one’s children and the feelings for a spouse, and it was also used to refer to a love feast. It can also be described as the feeling of being content or holding one in high regard. Agape was used by Christians to express the unconditional love of God.

(Sorry for having to use Wikipedia for this definition and the heavy use of Christian theology, but I still like how it’s defined here).

So, here’s my non-shocking confession: I don’t actively participate in the giving of food offerings and libations. I’ve been walking with the Gods since my age was in the single digits, and I have never been required to do so in order to have Their love.

They love me unconditionally.

They love you unconditionally.

Start giving to Them from that same point of unconditional love instead of thinking you have to continue buying what you already have for free.

Better yet, spread love like it’s an infectious disease amongst your fellow humans. That’s the greatest thing you could give Them.

Opinion Isn’t Always Fact

There’s been a rather interesting trend I’ve noticed on the blogs of a certain sect of Neo-Paganism. The trend is: attack another group of Pagans/Polytheists by over-generalizing using broad statements that are strictly opinion dressed up as fact. When the attacked group tries to respond, the comments are  denied publication while every “I agree with you” (from other members of said Neo-Pagan group) are, which makes the original opinion seem “legit” while padding the author’s perception of being a trusted authority on said subject.

Example One: I stumbled across a posting on the “badness of Ares” and how anyone who would honour Him must be out of their mind because He’s a prime example of the evil Patriarchy of over-masculinity. Because, you know, a strong Male is bad (that alone should be a huge guess of what kind of Neo-Pagan group I am talking about). I tried to respond to the post by simply quoting the Homeric Hymn to Ares which clearly shows that He was not seen as blood-thirsty War Lord.  My comment wasn’t published.

Example Two: Another blog (same Neo-Pagan group) went into a long and very offensive tirade against Pagan women who veil, who are devoted to Male Gods, and those that are devoted to specific Male Gods (re: the uber masculine such as Odin and Ares as well as the tricksters like Loki). This tirade continued for several posts, weaving in and out of contradictions, assumptions, and ego padding. I know there were plenty of responses to these posts from women who were greatly offended by these words; women who shared their stories and outrage over their personal worship being striped down to the most meager of understandings by someone whose opinion is already biased due to their chosen path. None of these comments were published because they showed the posts for what they are: opinion dressed up as fact.

So what’s going on? Why are people writing inflammatory pieces and then act shocked when those they have offended coming calling for an explanation? If you are a big enough person to write the rubbish, you have to be big enough to allow for the other side to speak.

Look, I’ve had my fair share of haters on this blog and I’ve allowed their words to be published. If someone disagrees with me, that’s okay. I don’t think padding the responses to make it look like everyone thinks I’m the shizznit, and therefor I’m a trusted authority, is being honest to my Readers. I don’t need my ego stroked by stacking the responses to look like not a single person disagreed with me, that not a single person was offended, that not a single person has a different opinion.

I hope these two incidents prove to be isolated occurrences.  I hope this isn’t common behavior for members of that particular Neo-Pagan group. I hope that in the future discretion is used when opinion is being passed as fact.

Excuse Me While I Have a Mini Freak-Out

Er’hem…

Hi, I’m Cora…that crazy chick who has been trying to merge Quaker and Polytheism together to make my own brand of faith all the while having some serious holy envy of the LDS Church. Not the homophobia, or the (what I see as) inequality between the genders, or some rather blatant errors in the gospel. Rather, I envy their community.

There are times that I am so tired of being that island of uniqueness in a sea of larger communities. It’s exhausting not having others that you feel that you belong to.

I haven’t been to Meeting in three months, ya’ll. Three months!  Not to play the poor-poor-me card, but not one person from Meeting has checked in on us. Not one phone call, not one email, not one Wall comment on FB. Nada, zilch, zero.  If we were LDS and missed just one Sunday we would have gotten folks calling to make sure that we are okay. If we had missed three months, I would have gotten visitors dropping by with cookies, cakes, chats, and lots of hugs and love. I know this and it makes me sad.

I’m sad because I want that community, that sense of belonging. I want the cookies, chats, cakes, and lots of hugs and love. Dammit, I want to belong somewhere and stop feeling like I fighting upstream all the time. It’s so exhausting.

I’ve jokingly said through the years that if I could keep my Polytheist beliefs and be Mormon then I would.

Enter the mini freak-out.

There are Mormon Pagans who call themselves Morgans. Now, they are Neo-Pagan/Wiccan types, but if there’s room for them, surly there’s room for me. Is this the sign that I should convert? Is this the last piece of the puzzle that I needed to finally just take the plunge (haha)?

Honestly, I doubt it. I’m freakin’ out right now about the whole thing, but that’s too big of a leap. And how would Poseidon, Hephaestus, Hermes, Hera, Athena, and the rest of the gang fit into that mold?

I am yearning for community more and more and just don’t know what to do.

The Gods Are Not Human,Racial Stupidity Is

It’s a shame on our Community that I even need to write this, that I need to point out the very obvious to a group of self-proclaiming “enlightened” individuals. But sadly, as my own personal experiences have shown, the larger Pagan/Polytheist Community houses some of the most intolerant and closed minded people I’ve ever encountered.

What is this abhorrent travesty? Three More Ways’ post entitled My observations and experiences as a Pagan Woman of Color:.  Read it and get angry.

There is a lot of things I want to say about this issue but I want to stay on point and not have this turn into a rambling hot mess of rants. So I’ll stick to my main points:

When I was serving Loki, I was spit on by a local (Caucasian) Asatru, who felt me claiming such a bond was an insult to his “warrior race” ancestors. I was later told by well-meaning others to never bring up my connection to Loki among other pagans. Not because of “Loki = Bad” spite, but because it will be assumed I’m fluffier than a bag of cotton balls because no black person would be accepted by the Aesir/Vanir.

Let’s get something straight: The Gods are not human. They are not tied to our very human (and very limited) perceptions of ourselves. The Gods do not have races: They are not African, Northern European, Asian, Middle Eastern, Hispanic. They do not have citizenship to one particular country: They are not American, Indian, Vietnamese, Kenyan, or Greek.

When we are called to serve a particular God/dess it is not because of the colour of our skin, or where we were born, or where our ancestors were born. We are called because of who we are on the Soul level. The Soul is what answers the call, it is the Soul that the Gods find. Think about this: what race is your Soul? Do Souls have races? No, they don’t. So for an idiot to say that Loki would never ask a black woman to serve Him is beyond stupid.

That is just as stupid as someone telling me that Hermes would never ask me to serve Him because I do not have an ounce of Greek blood in me. In fact, according the the Genoproject, my ancestors made their way to the British Isles, set up camp roughly 10,000 years ago and didn’t leave the Isle until 300 years ago. Yet I do not feel the need to follow the Gods of the British Isles, the Gods of my ancestors: no Celtic, Pictish, Scottish, or Northern Gods for me. I’m a 100% Greek gal.  And yet– despite my very strong mtDNA connection to the geographical spot on the Earth along with its culture, history, traditions, and Gods–the Community does not bat an eye over the fact I am a devotee to a completely different pantheon and culture. Why? Because as long as it’s a “white” God calling a white woman it makes sense?  Hermes is no more Caucasian than I am Asian. Loki is no more Caucasian than I am African.  Not a fraction, not an ounce, not a teeny tiny bit. They are not human.

On finding out I’m of black descent, people keep asking me who my Met Tet is. Who my Head Orisha is. Which Lwa am I bound to. And then saying “Why not? It’s your bloodline after all!”, when I tell them I don’t follow a African Diasporic Path.

I ran into this very thing not too long ago while involved in the now defunct Covered in Light. We were hosting a day of awareness for women who cover. On our events page a (white) woman started a thread about how very white washed the event was and that we needed to target reach out to women of colour to get them involved in the event. When asked if she had anyone specifically in mind she responded with “well, the  African Diasporic paths”.

I have two huge problems with this:

1) The idea that it’s okay to seek out women of colour to join the event so that it looks good. There’s not a strong enough word I can find to convey my disgust at this suggestion. That it is okay to use people of colour (because that is what it amounts to) to help further a cause is just sickening. I liken this to a person specifically seeking out to makes friends with a person of colour to prove that they are not racist without realizing that they are using that person to make themselves feel/look better.

2) On the heels of this is the idea that people of colour are automatically part of African Diasporic paths. Now, I might be a naive white woman who needs to be educated on this, but, it has never occurred to me that a black woman has only one path choice set before her by the Gods. It seems to me, that since They are not human, a devotee’s skin colour is the last thing They care about.

So to all of the people out there that think a “Caucasian” God would never ask a person of colour to be a devotee: You are an idiot who obviously has failed to understand the cope and magnitude of what and who the Gods are.

Update:  After reading the little gems of hate and ignorance on me over on Tumblr I feel compelled to add a few more lines to this just in case anyone actually reads this post instead of responding to the responses of random strangers who are responding to the haters.

I did not write this article addressing my POC audience. This was strictly written to the pieces of shit white supremacists who think that a Black Woman cannot be called to service by what is considered a “white” God.  This was written in direct response to the experiences of a Black Woman by dumb ass, close minded, should-be-ashamed-of-themselves white Pagans who felt it was in their right to tell her who she can and cannot worship. I am speaking directly to them.

This in no way is about cultural appropriation. It’s about people stop being assholes. After reading the comments about myself, there’s a lot of assholes out there.  For my haters who are POC..dude, seriously? How about taking the time to read the two follow  up posts before judging, because you are attacking a woman that is not only part of the biracial community but a woman that has no problem unleashing hell on Earth when I encounter racism toward another. In other words, you are attacking someone completely in your corner. How the hell does that make sense?

I come from the belief that we do not pick the Gods, They pick us. With that perspective it is plain stupidity to claim that They will stick to people of one specific skin colour for their followers. With that thinking, Thadd is exempt from being called by Poseidon and Hephaestus because he’s not “all” white. How fucking stupid.

Just in case anyone from Tumblr has an ounce of thinking for themselves instead of the sheep-like mentality I’ve seen over there, there are the two follow up posts:

Free Your Mind

What Colour Blindness Means To Me

One last thing: I’ve been accused by one rather vocal commentor that I have refused to post her last two comments on this post.  To her: Honey, bless your heart. With all of the comments you’ve left on this article, did it never occur to you once that this blog’s comments are not moderated? If your comments didn’t show up it wasn’t because of me but a glitch by WordPress. Sweet of you to spread lies about me, I feel honoured, but really, you might want to stop and think before you start spewing your hate. And read…you need to read what I actually write instead of read what you want it to say.

Pagan/Polytheist Boys and Boy Scouts of America

Whenever the topic of Boy Scouts of America gets brought up amongst Pagans/Polytheists, hackles are instantly raised and venom is spewed (I have no idea what animal has hackles and spews venom, but the Community certainly could use it as the unofficial mascot) against BSA and anyone who lets their kids join.

Thadd is a proud Polytheist boy who has been claimed by Poseidon and Hephaestus; he is also in the Boy Scouts of America.

“How could you let him join that hateful group?!”, shrieks that strange venom addled animal we’ll call Paganus Communityus.  “He won’t last long. You wait and see. He’ll drop out by the first year and beg to go to Spiral Scouts.”   Well, P. Communityus, I know my Thadd far better than you ever will (thank the Mighty Gods!) and I can tell you that the only way he’ll leave Scouts is if I drag him out kicking and screaming. He loves it.

How do I rectify the controversial issues surrounding BSA with my socially liberal view point? How do I, a Hellenic-Romana Polytheist Quaker mother, work within Scouting to make sure that my son is not a target of discrimination? How can other Pagan/Polytheist parents do the same?

Gay Rights

I’m a huge supporter of Gay rights and as of right now the BSA stance is that they will not allow openly gay Leaders/members into the organization. Largely, this has to do with the grossly disproportional influence of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints has on BSA. Oh, yes, the LDS Church (Mormon) has a firm grasp on the BSA Leaders’ ears even though the LDS’ Scouting Church-led program does not resemble mainstream Troop meetings in the slightest. It’s a travesty and I hope it will be rectified in the future.   So why do I support BSA when they don’t support equality, which is one of the most important Quaker Testimonies? Because, as The Friends Committee on Scouting puts it:

FCS believes that any withdrawal by FCS from involvement with BSA would only serve to hurt Young Friends.

It is my belief that if we want to facilitate the change we want to see, then we have to be part of the change. It does no good, and is rather cowardly, to sit on the sidelines foaming and snapping with venom dripping with every written word and not actively be part of the solution. I have the opportunity to help create the change from the inside out.  By refusing to join, by refusing to get involved, then I am telling the gay boys within BSA that they are not worth fighting for, but rather, they are just fodder for P. Communityus.  

And really, where do you think Thadd is going to learn to accept others by holding Equality as a dear Testimony? From BSA or from home?  If you teach your child your values at home, they will take them into the larger world and put them to use. If you allow your boys to be part of BSA while teaching them to support gay rights, then one day they just might be the one coming to the defense of an openly gay Leader/member and in turn helping to make the important changes to BSA regulations. Think of it as quiet rebellion.

Religious Rights for Pagans

Many people think that BSA disregards the rights of Pagans/Polytheists that would make Sen. Barr proud. Three points are often pointed to in support this belief: 1) The case of the Brown  brothers who were unceremoniously kicked out of BSA after their local Troop leaders learned that they are Wiccan  2) the fact that there is not a Religious Emblem for Pagan boys to earn. and 3) there’s a whole lot of talk about God.

Let’s break this down:

1) The case against the Brown brothers was in 2006 in Louisiana. This is 2012 and I’m in California. Six years and half a country separates me from this isolated incident. Not to mention that I’m not Wiccan. It’s like saying that something that happened in 2006 in Texas to a Mormon family will happen by default in 2012 to a Methodist family in Wyoming because both families fall under the “Christian” umbrella.

The Brown family was well within their right to fight back, and fight hard, to keep their boys in BSA. I understand why they wouldn’t want their young sons part of BSA after how they were treated by their local leaders. But please keep in mind, they were treated horribly by local leaders who came in with their own bigotry and ignorance. In the Charter and Bylaws and Rules and Regulations of the Boy Scouts of America the stance of religion is:

No matter what the religious faith of the members may be, this fundamental need of good citizenship should be kept before them. The Boy Scouts of America, therefore, recognizes the religious element in the training of the member, but it is absolutely nonsectarian in its attitude toward that religious training. Its policy is that the home and the organization or group with which the member is connected shall give definite attention to religious life.

Now, this clause has many Atheistus Communityus (closely a kin to P. Communityus)  gnashing teeth and snarling. But you know what? I’m not Atheist and don’t have any inclination to fight their battles. I have no problem with teaching Thadd to be reverent toward his God(s). Within this clause, all Pagan/Polytheist boys are protected. What happened to the Brown brothers is despicable and the Leaders involved in their expolusion should be kicked out on their ignorant rumps. They broke the Rules and Regulations, period.

2) The lack of a Pagan based religious emblem that can be earned by a Scout shouldn’t be surprising. C’mon, people, get real. We are the least organized group of people in any setting. In fact, how many times have you heard someone proudly claim that getting a group of Pagans organized is like herding cats? This should not be a point of pride! This will be our greatest undoing.

So, you want a religious emblem to represent the Pagan Scouts, do you? Okay. Let’s look at the logistics:

  • Who will fund the money to get the emblem made and readily available?
  • Who will set up the guidelines to earn the emblem?
  • What will be the guidelines entail?
  • What would the emblem look like?

Let me be very clear about this: If your answer is that the emblem should be a pentagram and that the guidelines should include knowledge of one’s familiar, The Wheel of the Year, elemental correspondences, and the like, I don’t want anything to do with it. Why? Because those are not part of my religious beliefs.

You do see the problem, don’t you? One emblem isn’t going to work. Just like there are many options for Christian Scouts to choose from, we would need many options. That means all of our different Paths and Traditions would have to work together to create one for their specific sect. Can it be done? Sure. It just requires people to stop acting like cats and begin acting like adult humans.

3) There’s a lot of talk about God, but there’s no reason it cannot mean your concept of God.  Like I tell Thadd, “your duty to God is your duty to Poseidon”. It’s really a no brainer.

I think the Scout Law and Scout Oath are great tools to teach boys how to conduct themselves.

Scout Law: A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly,
courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty,
brave, clean, and reverent.

Scout Oath: On my honor I will do my best
To do my duty to God and my country
and to obey the Scout Law;
To help other people at all times;
To keep myself physically strong,
mentally awake, and morally straight.

Tips for Prospective Pagan/Polytheist Scouting Families

  1. Get intimately familiar with the Rules and Regulations. Know your rights!
  2. Research the Troops in your area. I guarantee that there’s more than one option in your town. Learn who the Leaders are, contact them, ask specific questions about your concerns, visit them.  Make sure that the Rules and Regulations will be steadfastly upheld no matter what the personal opinions are of the Leaders and parents.
  3. Get involved! It’s much easier for people to dismiss the minority if the minority does not make the effort to get involved. There are plenty of opportunities for parents to volunteer in Scouts.

I am fully aware that I’m very fortunate with my Scouting experience. Thadd is fully accepted by the Troop Leaders, but before I let him join the Troop of his choice I  made sure that there was not going to be a problem. I’m not naive about the issues surrounding Pagan/Polytheist families. I do believe that with some special attention to preventative care, ( the whole an ounce of prevention/pound of cure adage) Scouting can be a wonderful experience for all.

By painting BSA with a broad brush saying that everyone in Scouting is a bigot is just as ignorant, hurtful, and harmful as the bigots.

Now I wait for the rabid Paganus Communityus to come stampeding in with raised hackles, dripping venom, and gnashing teeth. Really, what animal is that?!